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Dietitians Dish: 10 tips for better eating

By By Lisa Hagan
Jan. 8, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 7, 2013 at 7:08 p.m.

Lisa Hagan

Many of us make New Year's resolutions to eat better. Unfortunately, we are often left not knowing where to start. Consider these 10 tips to a great plate from ChooseMyPlate.gov to help guide your plans.

1. Balance calories.

Know your calorie needs. Divide those calories into the number of meals you eat. If your calories are 1,600 calories and you eat four meals a day, then each meal should be 400 calories per meal.

2. Enjoy your food but eat less.

Take time to enjoy your food. It takes about 20 minutes for the body to signal the brain that it is full. Pay attention to both hunger and satisfied cues. Stop eating when satisfied.

3. Avoid oversized portions.

Use a small plate, bowl and glass. Studies have found that serving large portions will cause a person to eat more than what is normal. If dining out, say "No" to the supersize options at the drive-thru or share a value meal.

4. Choose more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.

Most Americans do not get enough fiber because these foods are not eaten daily.

Meals that include a good source of fiber can keep you full longer.

5. Make half your plate fruit and vegetables.

Add a variety of fruit and vegetables to mealtimes. Cover half the plate with colorful fruits and vegetables.

6. Switch to fat-free or low-fat, 1 percent, milk.

Milk is rich in calcium. Fat-free or low-fat milk has the same amount of calcium without the extra calories and saturated fat.

7. Make half your grains whole grains.

Change breads, pasta and rice to whole grain. Look for labels that say "100 percent whole grain" or read the ingredients on the label to make sure that the words "whole-grain" is the first on the list.

8. Avoid high-fat, high-sugar foods.

Limit sausage, bacon, hot dogs, cakes, cookies, sweet breads, soda and candies. These foods are high in calories and offer very little nutrients.

9. Limit sodium foods.

The most common way to limit sodium is to avoid salting foods at the table. However, the sodium in table salt is not the only culprit. Beware of hidden salt added to processed foods such as canned vegetables, frozen dinners and soups. Choose foods that are labeled "low sodium" or "reduced sodium."

10. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Sugary drinks can add a significant amount of calories. Try making beverages calorie-free. Ice cold water is the best. If you do not like water, try club soda or mineral water to quench a thirst.

Lisa Hagan is a registered and licensed dietitian with DeTar Health Systems. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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